Over the past six months, the Solutions Institute (SI) has been working with activists, volunteers and non-profits from over twenty-two states as they embark on a mission to do what the government has failed to do: provide much needed aid and relief to victims of lead contamination in the Flint, Michigan water supply. In addition to providing water and working with local organizers to get the word out, SI provided activist training so that Flint residents can take control of their destiny.
The first of our monumental trips took place on Memorial Day Weekend, when activists from all along the eastern seaboard, midwest and southwest came together to deliver tens of thousands of gallons of water to affected residents. Organizers of this trip put together a rally/march, a panel of activists to field questions, and a free barbecue for any resident that showed up.
The second of three trips, which took place on Columbus Day weekend, was a smaller effort geared towards delivering more water, and gathering intel through community outreach, so that activists who planned on returning during Thanksgiving could be better prepared.
Our most recent trip took place over the Thanksgiving holiday. We were joined by the National Clean Water Collective and the Piece of the Rock Foundation.
What We Did
Activists from SI and the National Clean Water Collective arrived in Flint on Thursday, joining residents of the River Park apartments for Thanksgiving Dinner, followed by arts and crafts provided by the Collective for the kids. The following day, November 25th, the Collective hosted a community feast and panel discussion at Canaan Baptist Church. Over fifty residents attended the panel discussion, which was moderated by organizing expert, and Director of Activist Training for SI, Anita MonCrief. Discussion topics ranged from infrastructure and water content, to personal stories and community organizing. Panelists represented a wide range of professions, including grassroots activists and organizers Melissa Mays and Gina Luster, business manager of the Plumbers Union, Harold Harrington, and University of Michigan professor Dr. Suzanne Selig.
The final day of our trip was highlighted by an activist training workshop that Anita MonCrief taught at the headquarters of the Piece of the Rock Foundation. This was the first of two parts of our workshop.
The second part will take place on December 17th, when SI and the National Clean Water Collective will return to deliver more water, and to host another holiday banquet, with presents donated for the children of affected residents.
Children will get to participate in several activities, including: decorating the community Christmas tree, decorating and creating tree ornaments and party decorations, decorating Santa hats, baking holiday cookies, exchanging Christmas gifts, and taking pictures with Santa Claus himself; all while singing Christmas songs and enjoying delicious hot chocolate!
Kids will receive school uniforms, a toy or gift item of their choice, school supplies and more!
We would also like to supply schools within the Flint community with as many school supplies as we can. Any extra supplies will be distributed as evenly as possible to the Flint Community Schools.
Ways to Help
Items needed (but not limited to) are:
Water, pencils, pens, erasers, glue, folders, notebooks, filler paper, book bags, pencil boxes, uniform shirts (any color), uniform pants (any color), hats, scarves, gloves, toys, art supplies, and Christmas decorations.
Donated supplies and/or gift cards would be greatly appreciated. Items ordered from Walmart.com or Amazon can be shipped directly to Flint. The address is below.
Piece of The Rock Foundation
1938 S Dort Hwy,
Flint, MI 48503
Monetary donations can be made via The Solutions Institute:
Please be sure to visit our Christmas in Flint Facebook Page:
Our Objectives in Flint, Michigan
The trip wouldn’t have been complete without delivering water. After SI’s activist training workshop, all in attendance spent the next few hours delivering water to areas of Flint that have been most affected by this crisis/scandal.
Ultimately, the goals SI and its various partners hope to achieve are to raise enough money by the summer so that every affected resident is able to receive an industrial strength water filter. Additionally, as we’ve mentioned, we also seek to give residents of Flint all the necessary tools that an activist and organizer needs in order to achieve justice, and to hold those responsible for this crisis accountable.
We hope that by teaching Flint residents how to organize in their communities, and by continuing to raise awareness, we are helping to build a stronger Flint in which residents convey their expectations to public officials and those officials pay attention. We will continue to help with more training, and more water. While the bureaucrats work on the infrastructure required to deliver clean water to Flint’s homes and businesses, Flint residents are working on becoming a force to be reckoned with.